Steroid Use Keeps Ninety-Four Pound Marathon Runner Out of Olympics

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The Court of Arbitration for Sport affirmed the Lithuanian Athletics Federation decision to suspend marathon runner  Živilė Balčiūnaitė after she tested positive for the use of anabolic steroids. Balčiūnaitė tested positive for the anabolic steroid testosterone at the 2010 European Athletics Championship in Barcelona in July 2010.

Balčiūnaitė won the gold medal in the women’s marathon in Barcelona. She recorded a time of two hours, 31 minutes and 14 seconds. However, the European marathon title was taken from Balčiūnaitė and awarded to Russia’s Nailya Yulamanova as a result of the steroid suspension.

An investigation by her national federation confirmed the positive steroid test and banned her for two years. The steroid ban ends on September 6, 2012. This effectively disqualifies Balčiūnaitė from representing Lithuania at the 2012 London Olympics. The Olympics are scheduled to conclude on August 12, 2012.

The 94-pound marathon runner failed the testosterone:epitestosterone (T:E) ratio anti-doping screen in Barcelona.  But Balčiūnaitė strongly denied using anabolic steroids or any banned performance-enhancing drug (PED). She blamed the positive steroid test on her use of the prescription drug Duphaston.

Duphaston was prescribed by Balčiūnaitė’s gynecologist to combat menstrual pain. The active ingredient is dydrogesterone. Dydrogesterone is a synthetic hormone that is similar to progesterone. Balčiūnaitė continues to maintain her innocence.

While anabolic steroids are more commonly associated with power and strength sports such as bodybuilding, powerlifiting and weightlifting, endurance athletes have been known to use anabolic steroids, usually testosterone, to enhance recovery and performance.

The pattern of steroid use among endurance athletes is dramatically different from strength athletes. Marathon runners do not seek to gain any additional bulk from their use of steroids. Rather, they hope steroids will enhance their recovery ability.

American cyclist Floyd Landis is probably one of the best known (ultra) endurance athletes to have been busted using testosterone. Landis failed the T:E ratio test during the latter stages of the 2006 Tour de France. A carbon isotope ratio (CIR) tested confirmed that the testosterone found in Landis’ body was from an exogenous plant source rather than produced by his body.

The 150-pound Floyd Landis and the 94-pound Balčiūnaitė do not have physiques that are associated with steroid users. This is another good reason why muscle profiling may not be an effective method of detecting steroid use in athletes.

Marathon runner Zivile Balciunaite


Reuters. (April 2, 2012). Balciunaite loses doping appeal. Retrieved from http://au.eurosport.com/athletics/balciunaite-loses-appeal_sto3220215/story.shtml